There’s a certain dogma that’s been bugging me recently in the financial copywriting space…
And I’m going to risk making more enemies than friends with the side of this issue I come out on today…
But any time you get a dogma — a set rule that always must be followed — I think it’s wise to question it and even challenge it head-on.
Sometimes, you’ll get laid out on your keister…
And sometimes you’ll end up being proven right.
Here’s the dogma that’s bugging me…
“Every promotion must be based on a NEW idea…”
Let me start with the “pro” argument, then we’ll go to the “con.”
First off, the financial newsletter audience is among the most direct-marketing-exposed audiences in the world. What does that mean? Well, they get a lot of it. In fact, they get a lot of it, written by many of the top copywriters in the world.
They’ve seen all the amazing stories. They’ve heard all the giant “overnight riches” promises.
And the best buyers are also voracious readers. So not only have they read (or watched and listened to) many of the biggest promos out there in the market… They’ve also read all the free and paid newsletters, browsed the investor pages, and in general seen most of the stories floating around the market.
So not only have they heard that stock story — or that market story — already… They’ve heard it 10 times.
And so in order to capture their interest and attention, you have to stretch to find the new and novel. (It’s a truth of human nature that we’re naturally drawn to the new and novel.)
And so stands the argument why so many marketers — particularly in this sophisticated, mature market — demand a story that feels new from their copywriters.
This has played out in many of the top promotions in the industry, too…
Particularly in an investment market where everything has been going up for so long, with nary a real correction, investors just want to hear the next greed story.
And since they’ve heard the last 38 greed stories, and know them all well, they want another.
And so many of the top promos I’m aware of in the last year or two are certainly “amazing discovery” or “breakthrough opportunity” stories.
“XYZ has discovered a resource or doohiggy to do this…”
“ABC has created a proprietary, revolutionary new breakthrough for that…”
“Guru Jones has uncovered a unique, off-the-radar financial opportunity that does this…”
And these are certainly workhorses of the financial industry.
Not only that, I’m NOT going to argue with their effectiveness…
And yet, here’s me sticking out my big…
They’re not the ONLY way to go.
Here’s another truism of direct response. You will get tired of your own sales story long before your market gets tired of it or stops responding to it.
The classic version is “Do You Make These Mistakes In English?”
The original of the ad ran for 40 years, before Sherwin Cody, who taught the program being advertised, passed away and his company was sold.
The year the original ad was retired, a copycat ad sprung up across the pond, in England, and has been running for over 50 years.
That means that same basic narrative has been used to sell an English language course for nearly a century.
Granted it’s no stock picking story, but it’s an example of having your story right and sticking with it.
And it underscores my point that not all selling stories must be built on a new idea (and in fact there can be advantages to revamping or re-telling the same story until the cows come home — until it stops getting response).
The tale of two promotions…
Take two recent promotions I’ve worked on, for two different clients.
One meant to acquire new customers.
The other meant to sell a high-end service to customers of that company’s other lower-end services.
The first — the one meant to bring in new customers — is certainly deserving of a new and unique story.
The other, I’d argue, not so much.
You don’t want the promo to feel boring or rehashed. But the core idea of the offer is, “This is your opportunity to get even more of what you already love about our services.”
You’re preaching to the choir.
And to keep the choir singin’ in church, you don’t have to read from a new Bible every week.
You just keep coming back at ‘em with what works.
That same core message is tried and true. It’s what they expect from you. It’s what they love from you. It’s consistent with who you are, in the relationship they have with you.
In many cases, it’s the story that attracted them to you in the first place.
Who’s to say testing it won’t prove fruitful?
The danger in taking my advice…
If you run your own business, you should certainly take my advice. Write a version of your back-end promo — the one meant to upsell past and current customers — that has a brand new story. And write another that tells the same story you’ve always told in a slightly revamped way. Test ‘em against each other. I’d be willing to bet that in at least 50% of cases, the “same old” with a new coat of paint will outperform.
But if you’re a freelancer, here’s your problem. If your client has been indoctrinated into the dogma of the new, you’re gonna have to write new. Even if it’s not the best approach for the situation. You can certainly recommend a test of two approaches against each other. Smart clients will take you up on it. Not every client will. It’s the curse of not runnin’ your own show. That said, testing two versions of a promo makes it even more likely you’re going to end up with a winner.
- Break rules. The more universal the rules, the more important it is that you should see what happens by breaking them.
- Don’t be afraid to tell your story over and over again. Stop telling it when it stops working — not when you get tired of it or think “new” is necessary. Let the market tell you.
- If you can’t decide, test. Testing is always the best way to decide any marketing question.
There’s secret psychology behind all of this…
And it’s rooted in an approach I’m going to be discussing at my Advanced Direct Response Copywriting Workshop in November…
If you’re looking for just the right “big idea” for every promo you write, this will help you find it.
And if you want to know what it is, you’ll have to join me.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets